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America 8, Us 7, Washington 5, Feinstien 4, Michael Eric Dyson 3, Bennett 3, David Brooks 3, Nra 3, Obama 3, New York City 3, Randi Weingarten 3, Pete 2, Pete Williams 2, Duracell 2, Mourning 2, Pennsylvania 2, California 2, Columbine 2, Connecticut 2, Virginia 2,
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  MSNBC    Meet the Press    News/Business. A moderator  
   interviews a leading public figure. (CC)  

    December 17, 2012
    1:00 - 2:00am PST  

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former secretary of education bill bennett. "new york times" columnist david brooks. sociologist michael eric dyson. and the president president president. -- president of the american federation of teachers randi weingarten. from nbc news in washington, this is "meet the press" with david gregory. good sunday morning on a very difficult day for a small town in connecticut and for the entire country as we all grieve over the loss of life at sandy hook elementary. this morning we're getting a first look at the names and faces of some of the victims. 20 schoolchildren, eight boys, 12 girls, all first graders, and the six adults who died trying to protect them, including this heartbreaking video of a 6-year-old, anna marquez green, singing a hymn with her brother last summer. ♪ >> president obama will travel to newtown this afternoon to
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console victims' families and attend a community vigil. "the washington post" headline this morning sums up where we are nearly 48 hours after the shooting. wrenching details but few answers. that's where we want to start this special hour this morning with pete williams on what more we are learning about this investigation. and, pete, do we know about why it happened? >> no. i don't think we do, and i think -- of course, i don't think we can ever get a satisfactory answer. there is no satisfactory answer to this, such a monstrous act. there is some hope that evidence in the house where his mother was killed, where he killed his mother, they believe, will help illuminate what was in his mind. he had a computer there, and they are analyzing that to see what they can get out of it. >> what can you tell us about what happened if what was the scenario? >> well, it all starts friday morning when he takes his mother's guns. she had purchased them legally. this is a woman who grew up in rural new hampshire, comfortable with guns, collected them.
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he killed her. takes three of the guns to the school. drives there in her car. forces his way in, apparently by shattering a window. they had a buzzer system. he forced his way in. the principal and the school psychologist tried to stop him. he killed them. and then concentrated his firepower on two classrooms with devastating effect. and, david, the detail that was show sho so shocking is he used an assault-style weapon. a term that bothers some people. but a bushmaster 223, the same weapon that the washington snipers used 10 years ago, and shot these children several times, some as many as 10 and 11 times. so you can only imagine the devastating effect that that had. >> the shooter, adam lanza, who took his own life. we have an older picture of him, the only one that exists. what more do you know about him? >> he had a very troubled life. this young man by all accounts
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had a mild form of autism and was always a person of heart. never had any close friends. never was a good fit anywhere. his mother took him in and out of school, home schooled him for a while. his parents got divorced. he stayed with his mother. but obviously the neighbors and friends of hers say there was a great strain there. many classmates say that he, unlike the other kid whose had backpacks, he always had a brief case. he had trouble looking people in the eye. he had trouble fitting in or answering questions. so he was, you know, a very difficult time for him and his mother. >> i would think in the days and weeks ahead, the immediate focus will be on what can be learned from the computers they have taken from the mother's home about lanza. >> right. to see if he left behind anything that would explain his actions. but they tell us that there was no note, no letter, unlike some of the past school shootings where the people who committed them did leave detailed writings because they wanted people to know some message. >> and one other detail that struck me, you had a lockdown scenario in the school.
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he only visits this violence on two of the classrooms. other teachers and the other children were all locked down in their classrooms or other places. >> right. and we don't know why he chose those two classrooms. there was earlier misinformation that he chose the classroom where his mother taught kindergarten. this is something we still haven't nailed down. while it's clear she wasn't a full-time faculty member, there are people that say that at some time she volunteered at that school. >> but no other connection that he had to the school? >> not that we know of. >> thank you, pete, thank you for your reporting. >> you bet. i want to turn now to connecticut governor danell malloy. i am profoundly sorry we are doing this interview this morning. i have to ask you about the last 48 hours and what they have been like. can you describe it? >> sure. i received a call at our office that a shooting had taken place at a school near newtown.
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once we understood at least a portion of what had happened, got in the car and proceeded down to newtown from hartford. and then, you know, hours went by. and ultimately had to break it to the families, about 20 of the families represented in the room at the fire house that their loved one was not going to be joined with them. and that obviously was a tough moment for me. and i think for everyone. and, by the way, i shouldn't even say that. so much tougher for people who lost a wife or a child. but it was -- it's been a couple of tough days. >> what do you know now as we talk to pete williams about the investigation? do you have any more information that you're yet getting from your investigators that would explain why he targeted this school, why he went on this rampage at all? >> you know, as i think was stated, he had a relationship to the school.
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had attended there. at least that's what i'm led to believe. but beyond that, no, we really don't know a whole lot. this is a very deeply troubled individual. obviously you can't do the things that this individual did without any obvious motive, without having been being greatly disturbed. and that's what happened. and i heard -- >> is there documented health history, governor, that you're now aware of? >> well, you know, if you play the description that you -- that you already did on the show, i mean, this is not a person who maintained normal relationships. and i think, you know, there will be more time for stuff to come out and for us to understand more directly what was going on in this young person's life. but clearly he was mentally disturbed. >> the president is coming to visit and to share in the grief and to try to console those in the community.
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where would you like the national conversation to go in the most constructive direction now? >> well, you know, we are unfortunately a violent society. we have about 32, 33,000 deaths by use of a gun each year. about 18,000 of those are self-inflicted. i mean, there is a certain reality that if youhome, the ch that's going to be used against you or against a family member, you know, that's what happens. and in this particular case, someone tried -- decided to take those three guns and proceed to a school and literally slaughter people. so -- >> what would you like to see? >> i think there are certain problems in our society that have to be addressed. we don't treat the mentally ill well. we don't reach out to the families affected particularly
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well. we allow the ban on assault weapons to last. we need to have a reasonable discussion about how we help families in trouble, how we make progress in treating folks, how we intervene. having said all of that, in our particular state, we have laws that are probably more aggressive than most states. the mere presence of this kind of weapon means that this kind of weapon can be used in the way that it's been used here or has been used in other situations. >> governor, our thoughts and prayers are with you and with all of those families most directly affected by this. i really appreciate your time this morning. >> thank you. i want to turn now to the mayor of new york city, michael bloomberg. mr. mayor, thank you for being here. i wish it weren't under these circumstances. >> just tragedy. terrible. >> you have been an unspoken gun control advocate for many years. never more so than this morning. and we'll talk about that.
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first, "the new york post," the morning after the slaughter of innocents. describe your reaction when you saw this unfold. >> it's so unbelievable. and it only happens in america. and it happens again and again. there was another shooting yesterday. three people killed in a hospital. we kill people in schools. we kill them in hospitals. we kill them in religious organizations. we kill them when they're young. we kill them when they're old. and we've just got to stop this. >> there is in this country incredible sadness, empathy, anger, and a sense of resolve. and the president speaking after this horrible tragedy really gave voice to that friday afternoon. listen. >> we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics. >> a significant statement as far as it goes. you're calling for immediate action. whati] precisely? >> well, number one, i think the president should console the
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country. but he's the commander in chief as well as the consoler in chief. and he calls for action, but he called for action two years ago. and every time there is a disaster like this, a tragedy like this, everybody says, well, now is not the time. or if you had fixed the problem, you can't guarantee that this particular event would have been prevented. all of that is true. it's time for the president, i think, to stand up and lead. and tell this country what we should do. not just congress and say what you guys want to do. this should be his number one agenda. he is the president of the united states. and if he does nothing during his second term, something like 48,000 americans will be killed with illegal guns. that is roughly the number of americans killed in the whole of the vietnam war. >> so what do you do? >> well, there's a number of things that the president can do and a number of things that congress can do. and there are a number of things
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that you and i can do as voters. what the president can do is number one through executive action, he can order his agencies to enforce the laws more aggressively. i think there's something like 77,000 people who have been accused of lying when they have applied for a gun permit. we've only prosecuted 77 of them. the president can introduce legislation even if it doesn't get passed. the president campaigned back in 2008 on a bill that would prohibit assault weapons. we have to really question whether military style weapons with big magazines belong on the streets of america in this day and age. nobody questions the second amendment's right to bear arms. i don't think the founding fathers had the idea that every man, woman, and child could carry an assault weapon. and i think the president through his leadership could get a bill like that through
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congress. but at least he's got to try. that's his job. >> but isn't it significant that he may only be able to try, that we have seen declining support since 1990 for stricter gun control measures? we have seen the assault weapons ban come and go. tremendous political cost to democrats when they first got it passed. >> what's the political cost? the nr a's number one objective this time was to defeat barack obama for a second term. last time i checked the election results, he won and won comfortably. this myth that the nra can destroy political careers is just not true. >> it's not a myth that after the assault weapons ban was passed, there was a huge political price for democrats to pay. and nearly 20 years later, they don't want to touch the issues. >> well, it is true that they lost a lot of seats then. the cause and effect isn't quite so clear. and what happened then isn't what happens now. if 27 people killed -- 20
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children isn't enough to change the psyches and the desires of the american public -- >> let's talk about this, mr. mayor. here is the reality. let's look at the weapons that were recovered from the scene of the disaster. you have this bushmaster assault rifle. this would have been banned under the assault weapons ban. the pistols, the semi-automatic pistols, were recovered. the medical examiner said they were not used. this information could change. but also we are now learning that these weapons were found and legally purchased by his mother at her home. >> she was in a rural area. you have them for self-defense. a lot of americans agree with that. >> i can't tell you that if you stop people who have psychiatric problems, who have criminal records, who have substance abuse problems, who are minors, if you stopped every one of them from buying a gun, i can't promise you that this particular event wouldn't have taken place. but this particular event is just one of a series that happens again and again and again. and a big chunk of those would
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have been placed aside. your argument is there is no reason to have speed limits because it wouldn't have stopped that one person when the cops weren't around to step on the pedal. that's not true. the aggregate of all of this would be if congress were to act, if congress wasn't so afraid of the nra, and i think i can show you that they have no reason to be, but if they were to stand up and do what was right for the american public, we'd all be a lot better off. and congress has the ability to do this. and the president in my view is the one who has to lead this. the president campaigned in '08 on an assault weapon ban. and the only gun legislation that the president has signed since then, one is the right to carry a gun in national parks where our kids play, and one is the right to carry guns on amtrak. i assume that's to stop the rash of train robberies which stopped back in the 1800s. this is ridiculous. >> did you talk to him about this before you endorsed him? >> he knows my views.
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i didn't talk to the president or to mitt romney just before i decided to endorse barack obama. and i said in my endorsement that i endorse barack obama because i think his views on issues like this are the right views. but the president has to translate those views into action. his job is not just to be well-meaning. his job is to perform and to protect the american public. >> there is -- and i'm not advocating the position, but i'm playing devil's advocate as you know. the position that after a tragedy like this, the debate immediately seems to move in many quarters to gun control. as opposed to looking at sort of wider causes. after the aurora shooting at the movie theater this summer, i had governor hickenlooper of colorado on the program. and he was making the point that, yes, he used an assault rifle, but, you know, had he not had that he could have had a bomb. this is a portion of our conversation. >> i mean, if he could have gotten access to the bombs, what kind of bomb would he have
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manufactured? we are in the information age where there's access to all kinds of information. and humans can be diabolical and twisted in the sense that he was almost a terrorist. >> i don't think you can go to parents and say, i'm sorry, there's always going to be some crazy person, so we as a society are not going to protect your children. you don't really mean that. and i assume the governor didn't mean that. there's always going to be bad people, and there's always a way you -- you can strangle somebody with your hands. that doesn't mean everybody should have an assault weapon. you're going from one thing to another. the bottom line is that if you -- people say -- the other thing they said after aurora was education. don't you remember that? the solution to all of this is to improve our educational system. i think that came out of both ends of pennsylvania avenue. my recollection is one of these guys was a ph.d. student. another one at virginia tech was an engineering student. come on. this is not a panacea for all of society's problems.
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but this is one that's easy to focus on. >> so how do you change the leadership dynamic? talk a little bit about your experience in new york, wherere got the lowest crime rate since the 1960s. >> i don't think it's remarkable because we are doing the right things. we have sensible gun laws. we have proactive policing. and we incarcerate people when they are dangerous to society with tough punishment. >> there's also some of the searching methods that have been controversial and been criticized. >> that's proactive policing. we send our police officers to problem places where there are problem people. we focus our efforts where there is crime and make sure that the people who might commit those crimes know that there's a high probability that we will find them carrying weapons, and they'll go to jail. we have the toughest gun laws in the country. 3 1/2 year mandatory sentence in jail is state law if you're found carrying an illegal loaded
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gun. all of those things scare people from carrying guns. but the people that they scare are not the hunters and not the people that want to have guns to protect themselves in their homes. those things are guaranteed by the constitution and guaranteed by the supreme court. the supreme court also said that you can have reasonable restrictions. carrying guns on a college campus, for example, is one of the dumbest things i've ever heard of in my life. i don't remember what you were like when you were in college, but i shouldn't have had a gun when i was in college. nor should anybody i knew. we just don't need guns every place. we don't need people carrying guns in public places. that's not what the founding fathers had in mind. it doesn't add to anybody's safety. quite the contrary. it makes us have a much more dangerous society. >> how do you change the leadership dynamic? connecticut has a very strong set of gun laws. an assault weapons ban that ironically did not cover the weapon used in this case apparently. they tried to limit the high capacity clips and faced tremendous pressure. they weren't able to do that. but they still have tough laws. how do you change the dynamic?
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you say that this does change it automatically. >> the first thing, david, is having tough laws is one thing. enforcing those laws is something different. legislators' jobs is to come up with jobs, come up with agreements, get everybody into a room, form a bipartisan coalition, get everybody something. most of them get the -- the majority get the most of it. an executive's job is to make a decision. take the law and go out and apply it given the intent of the law. and that's exactly what we do in new york city. the fact that we have the lowest murder rate of any big city in the country says we know what we're doing. and we have it every year. we have had a reduction in murder rate virtually every single year for the last 20 years. >> as the leader of a huge city in america, new york city, what about the role of other people, our mental health professionals, law enforcement? >> all of that applies. >> what about gun owners and gun right supporters?
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what role do they have in this if there's to be a new dialogue? >> i think gun owners really have spoken. when you do the polling, most gun owners think that an assault weapons ban makes sense in this day and age. that study has been done again and again by both democratic and republican pollsters. and the trouble is that the nra is just never willing to have any restriction whatsoever, no matter how reasonable it is. the supreme court fortunately was. they said having reasonable restrictions is consistent with the constitution. >> does that dynamic change now? does the nra have disproportionate power? you argued a moment ago they didn't have the power they once did in a presidential election. >> i'll give you a good example. i'm not the kind of person to sit back and say, you know, the world is getting worse for my kids, and i'm gone, i don't care about their lives. i do care about their lives. i'm going to do everything while i'm alive to make the world a better place for my kids but also for society.
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and take a look. one of the things i decided to do in the last election was to support some candidates that were running against those that had great records with the nra, where the nra was putting their money into one side. i decided to put my money into the other side. >> joe baca in california, one of the democrats that you supported? >> we won four out of seven -- four out of seven where the nra supported every one of those four and we won with a small amount of money. there is this myth that the nra is so powerful. you go back to what happened back when the democrats lost after the assault weapons ban. i don't know that the two are connected then. but today, the nra's power is so vastly underrated. when you do the polls, the americans want to stop this carnage. and if 20 kids isn't enough to convince them, i don't know what will be. >> so the top priorities as of gun control are today to reinstate assault weapons ban?
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>> what about regulations? what about sensible gun laws that limit what you can do, when you can do it, make it consistent with the constitution, but also don't jeopardize everybody. and that's what i'm trying to do. >> so which ones would you fight for if you were the president? >> number one, there is a loophole in the federal law requirement that says you have to have a background check. the loophole is called the gun show loophole. there was this concept that at a gun show, if you wanted to sell one gun, and i just wanted to buy one gun, we wouldn't go through a background check because it was too complex. number one, it's not too complex. 99% of the gun dealers in this country do background checks, follow the law to the exact letter of the law. it really does work. but the gun shows have involved from you just selling one gun to me to you having 500 guns and 10
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or 20 like me come in to buy guns from you. it's a way to avoid the federal requirement for a background check. the background check database isn't kept up to date, and the president by executive order could certainly do something like that. there was a disaster, a murder six, eight months, a year ago, a military guy. the military knew he had psychiatric problems. never put that into the database outside of the military. and he goes and kills people. so populating the database. having -- making sure that you stop the gun show loophole. those are the kinds of things that congress can do. and enforcing the laws. the alcohol, tobacco and firearms division hasn't had anybody in half a dozen years running it, four years. the president hasn't fought hard for somebody. i know it's tough to get people through congress, approved in congress. the president deals with that all the time. this should be one of his number one priorities. >> how much are you prepared to spend in the future to counter the nra? >> i don't know how to answer that.
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but when i care about something, i care about something. i think i have an obligation as an american to -- and as a citizen, as a human being, to help others. smoking is going to kill a billion people this century. i put $600 million of my own money into trying to stop the tobacco companies from getting kids to smoke and convincing adults that it's not bad for their health. that's one issue. who knows? >> you're prepared to put a lot more money to support stricter gun regulations? >> wouldn't it be wonderful if we didn't have to do that, if everybody just said, ok, let's just have some common sense here. we don't need assault weapons. military style weapons with big magazines on the streets of our city. and we've got to make sure that people who don't have the maturity or the capacity, mental capacity, to responsibly handle guns don't have them? >> mr. mayor, thank you. >> you're welcome. >> appreciate it very much. >> very tragic. a note here this morning, we
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reached out to all 31 pro gun rights senators in the new congress to invite them on the program to share their views on the subject this morning. we had no takers. coming up here, big events like these often trigger a lively debate online. this tweet caught my eye. from @michellelaw, one guy tries to use a shoe bomb and everyone at the airport now has to take their shoes off. 31 school shootings since columbine, but no change. a provocative thought. and like mayor bloomberg just said, is what happened in connecticut going to be a catalyst for change in this and other areas? we'll talk about it with our special panel of key voices in this conversation after this short break. [ female announcer ] born from the naturally sweet monk fruit, something this delicious could only come from nature. now from the maker of splenda sweeteners, discover nectresse. the only 100% natural, no-calorie sweetener made from the goodness of fruit.
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coming up, before friday morning a heated standoff was brewing on capitol hill over the fiscal cliff. that debate now seemingly on hold for the moment at least as washington remembers the victims. lowering the flags at the capitol and the white house to half-staff. the question now for our nation's leaders, mental health experts, law enforcement, gun rights supporters and opponents alike, is what now? how do we move forward? alike, is what now? how do we move forward? a special discussihey sis,w to
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we are back with a special edition of "meet the press." joining us for the rest of the hour, a special panel. a leading voice in the senate for gun control for the past two decades, senator dianne feinstein of california. author and former secretary of education bill bennett. georgetown university professor and sociologist michael eric dyson. former governor of pennsylvania and homeland security secretary under president bush and also a member of the virginia tech shooting review panel tom ridge. the president of the american federation of teachers randi weingarten. and columnist for "the new york times" david brooks. welcome to all of you. as my wife and are trying to shield our young kids from news of this event, we realize that it's futile. this is not an exception. we cannot wish these events away. and i mention this robust social networking conversation that unites the country. and if there is one feeling, it is enough. so in that spirit, i want to have this conversation. here is the recent history of school shootings in this country, public rampages. not all at schools.
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and the number of victims going back to columbine in 1999 all the way to portland, oregon, at a mall. three people killed there. so the context is just so alarming. senator feinstien, we talk about guns. it often overshadows the debate about mental illness. but in the vein of gun control in this country and presidential leadership, you heard from mayor bloomberg. this is how "the washington post" described the president's leadership back in july. i'm not going to take away your guns, obama promised in september of 2008. however, he advocated closing a loophole that allows for gun purchases without background checks at gun shows and for reinstating the assault weapons ban. obama kept his promises to gun owners but not to gun control advocates. the president signed bills allowing guns in national parks and on amtrak. he has not pushed for the restatement of the assault weapons ban nor closed the gun show loophole. has the president failed to lead? >> i'm not going to comment on
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that. he will have a bill to lead on because i'm going to introduce the bill in the senate and the same bill will be introduced in the house. a bill to ban assault weapons. it will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation, and the possession. not retro actively, but perspectively. and it will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets. so there will be a bill. we've been working on it now for a year. we've tried to take my bill from 1994 to 2004 and perfect it. we believe we have. we exempt over 900 specific weapons that will not be -- fall under the bill. but the purpose of this bill is to get just what mayor bloomberg said, weapons of war, off the streets of our city. >> what makes you think it can pass? we've had tragedies before, and nothing happens. >> well, i'll tell you what happened back in '93 when i told
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joe biden who was chairman of the judiciary committee that i was going to move this as an amendment on the crime bill. he laughed at me. he said, you're new here. wait until you learn. and we got it through the senate. we got it through the house. the white house came alive in the house of representatives. and the clinton administration helped. the bill was passed, and the president signed it. it can be done. >> senator, we're having a little problem with your microphone which we'll remedy. david brooks, we immediately go after a tragedy like this to the gun control debate. more than a mental illness debate. as we look at the faces of these killers, in these recent incidents, what is the common thread that you find throughout them? they all appear to be young males, mentally at the very least mentally unbalanced. why do we so quickly move to the gun debate? >> first on the profile, we have had enough of this cases, we don't on this specific guy, but we've had enough cases to get a profile what they tend to be
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like. they are highly intelligent. something happens to them that damages that high estimation of themselves. they feel they are not being recognized by the world at large and decide they are going to do something to make the world recognize them. and so they go out and do these terrible things. and at the moment they're doing them this is the happy of their lives. they feel the world is uncontrolled, and suddenly they are in control. and they are the hero in their own life story. and so we should acknowledge, a, they are extremely determined to do these things. and that they are essentially -- they spend the months before lost in a black hole of their own festering. and i think it's those black holes that we as parents and as mental health community have to try to fill before they turn into these monsters. >> bill bennett, if the president is convening a task force and had everybody on this panel there to talk about solutions, as you heard senator feinstien say, does an assault weapons ban, does that have to be on top of the list?
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>> i think everything should be on the table. you don't limit the range of inquiry. all of these topics seem to need to be brought up. the senator noted 940 exceptions. if you can get one of those 940 rifles, you can still do a lot of damage. i don't know how effective the assault weapon ban was. some people suggest it wasn't effective. i had my argument back in 1990 when i was drug czar on this. but it seems we have to put everything on the table. and as david said, very well, a lot of us are tired of hearing after the fact about the psychological problems that people had. we saw this tucson, aurora. well, there are issues of privacy. civil liberties. if you have very troubled people, and now there's a kind
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of new confessional in the land called the internet, there's probably a record. this guy probably was saying some of the things that he was thinking to somebody. and we need to get a hold of that ahead of time. >> governor ridge, what is your experience particularly with the virginia tech shooting aftermath? what does it tell you about where we need to start reacting particularly to senator feinstien? >> i think everyone has really focused on a word you used. i think the country needs to have it. let's start with the act and pull back to the actors. there's a profile here. and it was really rather dramatic. the privacy laws insected with the inferior mental health delivery systems. what we know about many of these troubled young men, they often reveal their suicidal intentions. they often reveal their desire to kill. and so there's a -- we talk about mental health generically. but that's not a conversation parents have with counselors, and we run to it after the fact. and so i think the fact that we
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need a national conversation -- it has to include -- it will include and it must include some arms regulation. it has to include mental health. the privacy laws. this is a conversation that has to be reasonable, rational. it's time for us to have that conversation. but we cannot exclude the mental health component. >> randi weingarten, the folks you represent, the teachers you represent, were in newtown and at this school. it has to be very difficult this morning. >> well, i'm going up there this afternoon. but, you know, this is the instinct of educators and public servants that in situations like this, they just serve and they protect. and that's what people have seen here. but let me just say three things really quickly. number one, in terms of parents, we have a whole bunch of resources now on our website, aft.org and share my lesson, another platform we have, because you can't hide or shield
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kids from this. we have suggested don't have your kids watch tv all the time right now. but kids will have questions and fears, and we have to actually figure out how to reassure them in a reasonable way. number two, i want to go back to what everyone else has said. i think that this is a turning point here. i could hear it and feel it around in the last 48 hours. not just in the northeast. i see it from our colleagues all across the country. but it has to be a conversation and action about both mental health as well as gun laws. >> let me pick up on the gun laws. michael eric dyson, just the politics of this, which matter, you heard mayor bloomberg's criticism of the president. he campaigned one way but he didn't push it. didn't lead. as a second-term president, prepared to make gun control or stringent laws his number one agenda item? >> well, david, you don't lead in a vacuum. i'm a baptist preacher. you can preach the same sermon to one church at another church. and if the people are with you
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in the amen chorus, you'll have a much better result. the president needs an amen chorus in his congregation. i think that these public incidents, acute, dramatic, instigate and inspire people to say, enough with the hand wringing. let's get to some public policy that reflect our moral consciousness about what we need to do. there's no one at this table that would defend the ability of anybody to repeatedly shoot a child. we've got to talk about sensible gun laws. what about banning these assault weapons? the ban expired in '04. what about the background check st s? we still have a stigma on acknowledging the fact that i might be depressed, i might need to talk to somebody, a priest or a rabbi. can i that you can to my psychologist? we don't need cuts in medicare or medicaid to prevent people from seeking those kinds of psychological release. and we have to have the ability then to say to the president, the nation is now galvanized around this particular point. you must now use your bully
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pulpit to tell the story, the narrative that unifies us as a nation. >> bill? >> just a couple of things. there is something called a deranged mind. i don't know how much we have studied cho. but we know he had very serious problems. and i do want to say one other thing. there's something to be said for what we're doing as a nation. if the president wants me to be on the task force, i'd be glad to serve. we are mourning. the whole nation is mourning. that's an important moment. let the tears dry before we head off into all of these directions at once and not head off at once. the other thing is, let's remember the good things here. the heroism of those teachers and that principal. and i'm not so sure, and i'm sure i'll get mail for this, i'm not so sure i wouldn't want one person in a school armed, ready for in kind of thing. the principal lunged at this guy. the school psychologist lunged at the guy. it has to be someone who's
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trained, responsible. but, my god, if you can prevent this kind of thing, i think you ought to -- >> go ahead, david. >> can i just say one thing about the debate we need to have? this has become -- one of the problems with the debate is it's a values war. it's perceived as urban versus rural and frankly perceived as an attack on the lifestyle of rural people by urban people. and i admire mayor bloomberg enormously. but it's counterproductive to have him as the spokesperson for the gun law movement. there has to be more respect and more people frankly from rural and red america who are participants in this. >> can i say something about the urban? isn't it interesting, not as dramatic incident as this but not as, you know, dramatic in the sense of what happened but it's not as massive but it's far more devastating, the constant urban drama that we deal with with our children as well, who are losing their lives, victims of racial profiling and police profiling? so that profiling doesn't seem
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to work. it seems to hype up our vigilance to say we're going to find out what -- where these problems are and focus on them. but the result is not what we see with these kids. look at what happened with other people who don't get profiled and they murder our children. >> i want to bring you in, senator, and respond to that. the aspect of more guns being introduced. there will be a national response to say part of school security needs to be armed guards on campus. >> is this the way we want america to go? in other words, the rights of the few overcome the safety of the majority. i don't think so. i think america is ready. they're going to have an opportunity with this bill. i'm going to ask and spend my time and create a committee across this nation to support it. >> will the president speak out in favor of it, you believe? >> i believe he will. look, we crafted the last bill. it was right out of my office. and we're crafting this one. and it's being done with care. it will be ready on the first day. i'll be announcing house authors.
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and we'll be prepared to go. and i hope the nation will really help. >> certainly a news development this morning. randi, we'll start with you when we back. i want to continue this. but it's not just access to guns. it is a culture in which violence is routine and is considered routine. we'll discuss that with our group right after this. ♪ it's so important to make someone happy ♪ when you give a child a toy, it has to work. ♪ make just one someone happy and when it's a toys for tots child, well, what could be more important? so this year, every hasbro toy donated to toys for tots will be powered by duracell. happy holidays. duracell with duralock. trusted everywhere.
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we're back with our roundtable. as i said, monitoring social networking and on twitter, rupert murdoch said on friday, tweeted this, terrible news today. when will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons? senator feinstien, maybe there will be more allies than you imagine. and from tom brokaw, who tweeted on friday something that has been shared thousands of times, it's not enough to talk about access to guns. we have to talk about a popular culture that treats violence as routine. >> let me go back to secretary bennett's point. there are so many ways, access points into schools, schools have to be safe sanctuaries. we need to stop this routine view that just having more guns will make people safer. we are opposed to having in a
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safe sanctuary like an eleme elementary school someone who has access to guns. and i would ask governor snyder to veto the bill that says concealed weapons in schools would be ok. but this notion of we can actually do things in schools, we can actually have more guidance counselors, more social workers, psychologists, all of whom who have been cut because of the cuts. we can do more of these things to destigmatize mental illness and have more access as well as a whole package of sensible gun laws. >> governor, while you were homeland security secretary, what was the point of counterterror? it was to harden the targets. to limit damage. >> you always try to reduce the risk. and i think that's what bill is referring to. and i think that's some form of gun regulation is to reduce the risk. but i think the conversation should start with the premise that our children -- no child is born violent. and so what are the experiences,
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pressures, whatever, during the course of that child's life, that lead them to the path that they've taken at columbine, aurora, sandy hook? we know there's mental health problems. but we've got to peel away the different layers. let me say this respectfully, because i voted for your assault weapon ban, that's a start. but there's still so much more that needs to be done. mental health is a component of it. we haven't even started talking about the corrosive influence of a violent oriented world. tv, video games, shoot to kill video games. when you're in the military, you learn that your target may shoot back. but you get in this digital world, this fantasy world, that if you look at the folks at columbine, aurora, et cetera, suddenly it's a different personality type. you need to understand that. >> you don't think this as corrosive an effect as people think? >> i had thought video games
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have played a role, but very few of the shooters over the years have had contact with video games. it tends to be not who they were. so i don't think this is a sociological problem primarily. i think it's a psychological problem. and there are millions of moms and dads in the country now dealing with mental health issues in their own families, and they don't know -- there's not -- if you're the mom of this kid, you don't know immediately where to go. there are places you can go which are the police or an institution. but that probably is stepping off a very steep chasm. where do you easily go for help? that's the question. >> national lines on mental illness put out a report last year that said in part states have cut more than $6 billion in their state budgets for mental health services since fiscal year of '09. that translated to loss of vital services such as houses, access to medication and crisis services. >> look, here's the thing. what do people do when they
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don't have access? they self medicate. the drug rate rises. people's addiction to violence that we speak about is exacerbated. but here is the interesting point. we would rather talk about somebody rapping about, singing about, portraying in a film violence than the actual violence itself. while we demonize and stigmatize those people who replicate patterns in pop culture we do nothing about the ready access to guns. it's the ready access to guns that led to this devastation. until we get the guns removed, all of the imagination, the erotic intensity connected to violence, will not be disswauad from having a negative impact. >> you may have careful legislation proposed by the senator which may pass. you're not going to get the guns removed. you do have this problem called the constitution. there is the second amendment. let me finish my thought. i know, it doesn't say anything about assault weapons and that wasn't the founders intent and i agree with that. but it's not just right wingers
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who won't appear on television. it's circuit court and supreme court judges say it isn't right. you have more freedom in america, and there's more abuse of freedom in america. >> but you have to have the ability to say there's a wide gulf between repealing the second amendment, aaron burr and alexander hamilton can have a fight, about but they didn't have assault weapons. >> i think it's interesting. the nra never brought the '94 assault weapons legislation to court. they knew it would be sustained from the beginning. and i believe this will be sustained as well. you know, all of the things that society regulates, but we can't touch guns, bill. >> we get rid of assault [ male announcer ] introducing zzzquil sleep-aid. it's not for colds, it's not for pain, it's just for sleep. because sleep is a beautiful thing. ♪ zzzquil, the non-habit forming sleep-aid from the makers of nyquil.
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describe the room. a big, open space. smells really fresh, man. oh! [ both laugh ] febreze? how about that? yeah. febreze anti-clogging technology keeps it smelling fresh. febreze. breathe happy. this conversation and debate will go on. i wish we had more time. thank you all very much for beginning it. i want to close with this.
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we were preparing our discussion this morning and monitoring what has been a robust conversation across social media, including so many words of sim pathy and comfort. and we came across the widely shared advice of mr. rogers on pbs. he said when he was a boy and he saw scary news on tv, she said, look for the helpers. you will always find people who are helping. so this morning, we offer our prayers to the families hit by this unspeakable pain. my god give you strength. and you know there is a country full of helpers here to ca
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this morning on first look -- president obama offers words of comfort for the people of newtown, connecticut and makes a bold promise to the nation. >> i'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens from law enforcement to mental health professionals, to parents and educators.
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in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. >> plus the latest details surrounding the deranged gunman adam lanza. today, schools will see an increased security presence as students return to class. a very good morning to you. schools will be closed in newtown, connecticut, today as a community that has suffered the unthinkable continues to mourn the loss of 27 of its families gund down in cold blood friday morning. last night, president obama took the stage at an interfaith prayer vigil. >> whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it. newtown, you are not alone. >> this morning, local police will hold a news conference with the latest details on their investigation.
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